Amidst the ongoing brouhaha between the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) concerning electricity billing and tariffs, the president has asked Ghanaians to brace themselves for a possible privatization of ECG.
According to President John Mahama, “You fix a situation by taking risks. It is a risk we took when we deregulated telecommunications. If you are not ready to take risks then the world is not ready to make progress”.
The President was addressing participants at an ICT expo in Accra Tuesday.
He said he finds it difficult to understand why the same people who say power distribution must not be monopolised, criticise suggestions to privatise the electricity distribution system.
“We have had this system for years, and it’s not working. If it’s not working, we fix it,” he underscored.
ECG’s challenges of poor and inefficient service, coupled with an inability to collect huge debts owed it, have fuelled calls for the privatisation of the company.
Think Tank IMANI Centre for Policy and Education has led calls for privatisation of at least 80% of the power distribution company.
The Think Tank believes privatisation would bring about competition in the sector which will, in turn, bring about efficient service.
President Mahama also seems to support this idea, suggesting at the Expo that the telecoms sector owes its current vibrancy to the first step taken to privatise the then Ghana Post and Telecommunications some two decades ago.
“Today I can see a similar development of the inefficient downstream distribution system on the electricity and power front. We are trying to do reforms and those [criticisms] are being drawn out,” the President said.
However, President Mahama’s latest comments are in sharp contrast to an earlier declaration where he said government does not have any intention to privatise the ECG.
In concluding his speech at this year’s May Day celebrations at the Jubilee Park in Wa in the Upper West Region, the president said, “ECG is and will remain a wholly owned state enterprise.”
He explained then that government’s agreement under the Millennium Challenge Compact is not meant to privatise the electricity distribution system but only to leverage private sector participation at the client level to assist in resolving clients’ complaints and revenue collection.